How you know when it is time
The waiting is over. You know it is time if you have regular contractions, cramps and tightening in the abdominal area. Once labour has started, you will experience regular contractions(every 10 mins or so and getting closer). At worst, the contrations can follow one another relentlessly, which is painful and exhausting, not letting the mother catch her breath and breathe into the next contraction. Use breathing techniques to relieve pain.
Your waters break. A painless leakage of amniotic fluid, which can vary from a slight dribble to a heavy gush. It indicates that the membranes surrounding the baby in the uterus have ruptured.
The process of birth consists of three stages, only the contractions continue throughout.
Stage 1. The uterus starts to contract at regular intervals until the cervix dilates to about 10cm in diameter. This is the longest stage of labour.
Stage 2. The cervix is fully dilated. Contractions and the mother's pushing move the baby down through the pelvic canal. This is usually a much shorter stage.
Stage 3. After the birth of the baby, the placenta separates the lining of the uterus and further contractions expel it.
Assisted delivery methods
If your obstetricians see complications developing, he/she will aid the birth process in the best way for you and your baby. If the baby's head is visible but the body cannot get through the birth canal, forceps may be used to help him or her out. Forceps are sometimes used to speed delivery if the mother or baby are in distress. A shortlasting anaesthetic is given and the obstetrician gently eases the baby out. This may eliminate the need for an emergency Caesarean.
A Caesarean section is performed by making an incision along the bikini line and lifting the baby out. It is a major surgery performed with an epidural or under general anaesthetic.
An elective Caesarean is decided in advance, usually because the baby is breeched or a Caesarean was necessary in a previous delivery.
An emergency Caesarean is the same operation carried out when the woman is already in labour and there is an urgent need to deliver the baby quickly, either because the baby has turned and is in breech presentation or becomes short of oxygen. In the mother reasons include severe preeclampsion or placenta previa where the placenta is lying across the cervix and would be ruptured if labour continued and cause potentially dangerous haemorrhaging, or pelvic tumours, such as fibroids or ovarian cysts, which could obstruct the baby's delivery.
Return to top